U.S. President Barack Obama is traveling the country to promote the economic plan he laid out in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. The president started the tour Wednesday with a visit to a manufacturing plant in the central state of Iowa.
Boosting America’s manufacturing sector is a big theme of President Obama’s plan for speeding the economic recovery.
At a conveyor belt factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the president reinforced the parts of his State of the Union message that set out ways to create more U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Above all, Obama called for reforms to U.S. tax laws, to stop rewarding companies that move jobs out of the country, and add incentives for those that stay.
“Companies get all kinds of tax breaks when they move jobs and profits overseas. Think about that. A company that chooses to stay in America gets hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. That’s wrong. That does not make sense,” said Obama.
The president also advocated policies that discourage companies from shifting profits to overseas tax havens.
Some of the initiatives are geared toward competing with China, where, Obama said, it is becoming more expensive to manufacture goods.
“Their wages are going up. Transportation costs to ship a big auger over here start becoming cost prohibitive. Meanwhile, America is getting more productive. We have become more efficient. We are as competitive as we have ever been. So for a lot of companies, it is starting to make a lot more sense to bring jobs back home,” said Obama.
The president also stressed his efforts to increase exports of U.S. manufactured goods.
“We need to make it easier for American businesses to do business here in America. And we also need to make it easier for American businesses to sell our products other places in the world. I do not want to export our jobs; I want to export our goods,” said the president.
Obama said the United States is ahead of schedule in meeting his goal of doubling exports within five years.
Much of his tour is aimed at boosting support among lower- and middle-income Americans, who have been hit hard by the recession and the resulting high unemployment.
The president’s approval ratings are still below 50 percent, and a majority of Americans polled have doubts about his handling of the economy.
Some of Obama’s comments on the economy are intended to answer criticism of his performance by Republican Party presidential candidates, especially former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
The five states the president is visiting on this trip all are considered swing states, where the November election could be decided.
Obama’s three-day trip also includes stops in Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Colorado and Ann Arbor, Michigan.